Response Categories
Q.Considering the EU notice to stakeholders issued 19/1/18 on the Field of Road Transport. It states that UK driving licences will no longer be recognised by Union members after withdrawal, but is regulated by member states. What if anything do we have in BFG to alleviate any possible issues?
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A.

I would like to start by highlighting that the status of members in the BFG Community is granted under the Status of Forces Agreement  and not the UK’s membership in the European Union (EU). This Agreement will remain unchanged following our departure from the EU.

The SOFA and Supplementary Agreement permit members of the force, members of the civilian component and dependents to drive in Germany on the basis of their UK driving licences.  A consequence of leaving the EU is that it may be necessary in the future to issue an additional permit.  However, this is an administrative process and would not, for example, involve taking a practical driving test.

Q.Why are the Naafi still allowed to give single use plastic bags for free?
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Especially when it's a UK law to charge for them and local shops here also charge for them. I am also concerned by the amount of these that are clearly incorrectly disposed of in the local community as I see them on a frequent basis throughout Bielefeld. These have the Naafi logo on so I think it paints a bad picture for the BFG community. Perhaps either sell re-usable ones (such as cotton ones) or give out paper bags.
A.

BFG and NAAFI are committed to contributing to the Government’s ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’. I am pleased to advise that the NAAFI were already reviewing their plastic bag policy and from 1st June 2018 they will be introducing the charges below:

  • Single use plastic bags – 0.05€
  • Recyclable brown paper bags – 0.15€
  • Re-usable polypropylene bags – €1.00
  • Re-usable insulated bags – €1.50

NAAFI have confirmed that any profits made from the sale of single use plastic bags or brown paper bags, less any reasonable administrative costs, will be donated to either a military charity or environmental group.

Q.As a result of the BREXIT vote many of us would now like to apply for dual nationality through the host nation; this would need to be completed before Great Britain leaves the EU in the expected 2 years’ time, thereafter we become ineligible.
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In order to apply for this (in addition to language skills and German principles tests etc.) there are a number of criteria that need to be met including the requirement to have lived in Germany for at least 3 years (if married to a German) or 8 years if not. Although not specified as such on their website this is controlled by the requirement to have been registered locally on the German net through the Einwohnermeldeamt and thereby lays our problem as fols:
1. I believe that iaw SOFA and its Supplementary Agreement we are not only ‘not required’ to do this my understanding is that we are actually prohibited from doing so whilst in employment as a member of the Force/Civilian component. Is this correct and if so is this still a necessity today?
2. Would it be possible for your HQ to engage with the Host Nation to see if there is any way that personnel such as myself who have been either married to a German National for many years and/or been resident (but not registered) here locally for well in excess of the above outlined criteria to be afforded an exemption to this requirement provided another form of proof of residency can be shown?
A.

I can confirm that members of the force, the civilian component of the force and dependents are exempt from German regulations on registration of residence.  They are not prohibited from registration. 

Changes to nationality may have an adverse effect on employment, exemption from German income tax laws and the right to purchase duty free goods.  The implications will depend on the individual circumstances.

The requirements for an application for German citizenship are set out in German law and you will need to obtain you own advice on whether you qualify.  I am afraid that this is not an area in which we can engage directly with the German authorities nor issue advice.  However, I will make the team dealing with the Defence impacts of EU Exit aware of the issue.

 

Q.With the upcoming BREXIT vote nearing ever closer, what are the implications on the forces communities in BFG should the UK leave the European Union?
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Will it affect things such as healthcare, Living Overseas Allowances and tax free entitlements for British soldiers and their dependants? – Name and Address Supplied
A.

As you will appreciate, the impact of the British vote to leave the European Union is complex and much work is currently underway in Government on this.  I understand that these are uncertain times for the BFG community and I am personally leading work to understand the impact of the UK’s decision on our population here in BFG but this will take some time.

In the meantime, I can confirm that BREXIT is unlikely to have an effect on the provision of primary, community and secondary healthcare for the BFG entitled population in Germany, as these are provided under contract. 

In terms of LOA, there will be no direct impact on how LOA (or COLA) is calculated, although currency fluctuations may result in adjustments being made to the FFR which would be reflected in LOA (and COLA) rates. 

Tax free entitlements are also unlikely to be affected as these are based upon privileges enjoyed as a result of the SOFA and the Supplementary Agreement which are currently enjoyed by the forces of other states which are not EU members.

As work progresses to understand the impact of BREXIT, I will ensure that BFG personnel are kept fully informed of any changes which may impact on them during their posting here in Germany.

Q.A lot of people are worried about what the implications will be now that the UK has voted to leave Europe, especially the financial ramifications for those of us living in BFG.
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There is speculation about loss of kindergeld and the amount the pound will drop against the euro causing financial hardship for some. I think many people would be grateful to get some clarification on this as it is of concern to our community. - Name and Address Supplied.
A.

Thank you for your question regarding the implications of the British vote to leave the European Union.  I understand that there are concerns within the BFG community about how this will affect us living in Germany and those are concerns which are shared by us all.

To be eligible for Kindergeld as a spouse of a BFG-entitled person, you are correct that you must be an EU citizen, as well as resident in BFG, and a number of other factors.  However, it is too early at this stage to say what the implications will be following the referendum.

I am personally leading work to understand the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union on British Forces in German; but this will take time.  I will keep our entire community informed as much as I can.

If any member of our community has concerns about their financial circumstances, there are a number support services available who can offer advice and their details can be found on BFGnet. 

Q.I am wondering why our husbands are NOT ALLOWED to return their army uniforms and equipment they no longer need?
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As we get ready for draw down we are probably being shipped back to the UK in a couple of years so we are starting to downsize everything knowing that hardly anything will fit into the UK houses. I have asked my husband and other soldiers and the response is the same...we are not allowed to return anything my husband has a cellar room, which is full of things we need to get rid of. - Karen Batty
A.

I agree.  What you describe is frustrating. 

The process of removal of items from individual’s Personal Holdings Reports (PHRs) has been simplified in recent months, so it is now much easier to return any clothing and/or equipment held above and beyond scale.  Items can be returned to the Unit QM Department or Station QM Department at a mutually convenient date and time.

Q.There has been a British presence at PRB since 1945. With it's closure later this year, would it be possible to have a 'guided tour' of PRB for those interested in its history?
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Those on the tour could make a charity donation. - Name and Address Supplied.
A.

Thank you for your question to Ask the Commander, in which you have asked to have a historical tour of Princess Royal Barracks, Gütersloh.  It is possible to have a guided tour and I have tasked Gütersloh Station to organise and advertise tours. Please contact Gütersloh Station 2IC on 0049 5241 834 2895.